See what Professor Bryan R. Becker, Chemical Engineering Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, takes a moment to look at engineering education, tools that help students succeed, and why he’s passionate about the next generation of engineers.
Why is teaching mechanical engineering a passion for you? What aspect of your career is most gratifying?
I enjoy learning new things about the mechanisms that govern how the universe operates. I enjoy organizing, assimilating, and presenting this information. The most gratifying aspect of my teaching career is working with students who are interested in learning the material.
Would you say that most engineering students are prepared to enter their careers by graduation? If not, what skills/concepts/resources should they focus more attention on?
Students usually have a good understanding of the theories of engineering, but they have trouble bridging the gap between textbook learning and real world problems.
How do real-world engineering examples like the solution story help students prepare for their careers?
The Solution Stories give the students confidence in how to attack real world problems. That is, the Solution Stories show how the theories and equations are applied by engineering professionals.
In many years that you’ve been in the classroom, are you seeing students shifting towards more electronic resources like Knovel? If so, in what ways can tools like this help prepare them for the future?
In the thirty years that I have been teaching at the university level, I have witnessed a dramatic shift in engineering education more and more towards electronic resources, such as the use of various modeling tools (CAD, CFD, etc.), mathematical software packages, spreadsheets, word processing, electronic imagery, and computerized library research, etc. Since the Knovel products combine several of these functions: modeling, mathematical solution and library research, familiarity with tools such as Knovel will give today’s students an advantage as they enter the workforce.
How has the field of mechanical engineering changed over the past 10 years? How do you address these industry changes in the classroom?
Engineering education today utilizes much more electronic technology because the engineering profession is more computerized. Prototypes are built and tested using software rather than the ‘model shop.’ Library research is done online rather than using the ‘card index.’ Mathematical problems are solved using mathematical software rather than paper and pencil. These changes are addressed in the classroom by introducing the students to the various electronic tools available to them and giving them assignments that utilize these tools.
Do you think the Knovel Fundamentals Study Guide is a comprehensive and accurate guide for the FE Exam? What else should students do to prepare?
I believe that the Knovel Fundamentals Study Guide provides a comprehensive and accurate guide for the FE Exam. I would also recommend that the students review the texts, problem sets and exams that they did during their engineering education.